Homer

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Victory passes back and forth between men.

Homer (Ancient Greek: Ὅμηρος) was an ancient Greek poet.

Quotes[edit]

The Iliad (c. 7th century BC)[edit]

This section uses the translation by Richmond Lattimore (1951). Full text online as translated by Samuel Butler.
  • The will of Zeus was accomplished.
    • I. 5.
  • Speech sweeter than honey flowed from his tongue.
    • I. 249 (trans. W. A. Falconer).
  • Then looking at him darkly resourceful Odysseus spoke to him:
    "What is this word that broke through the fence of your teeth, Atreides?"
    • IV. 350-351.
  • Αἰδομένων ἀνδρῶν πλέονες σόοι ἠὲ πέφανται·
    φευγόντων δ' οὔτ' ἂρ κλέος ὄρνυται οὔτε τις ἀλκή.
    • By mutual succour more are saved than fall;
      In timid flight nor fame nor safety lies.
    • V. 531–532 (trans. Lord Derby).
  • As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
    The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
    Burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
    So one generation of men will grow while another dies.
    • VI. 146-150.
  • So they spoke, and both springing down from behind their horses
    gripped each other's hands and exchanged the promise of friendship;
    but Zeus the son of Kronos stole away the wits of Glaukos
    who exchanged with Diomedes the son of Tydeus armour
    of gold for bronze, for nine oxen's worth the worth of a hundred.
    • VI. 232-236.
  • Victory passes back and forth between men.
    • VI. 339
    • Paris contemplates the fickleness of victory as he prepares to go into battle.
  • Δακρυόεν γελάσασα.
    • Smiling through tears.
    • VI. 484 (trans. Lord Derby).
  • Αἴδεσθεν μὲν ἀνήνασθαι, δεῖσαν δ' ὑποδέχθαι·
    • Shamed to refuse, but fearful to accept.
    • VII. 93 (Lord Derby)
  • Man, supposing you and I, escaping this battle,
    would be able to live on forever, ageless, immortal,
    so neither would I myself go on fighting in the foremost,
    nor would I urge you into the fighting where men win glory.
    But now, seeing that the spirits of death stand close about us
    in their thousands, no man can turn aside or escape them,
    let us go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it to others.
    • XII. 322-328 (Sarpedon to Glaukos).
  • ἀλλ' εἰ δή ῥα τότε βλάπτε φρένας εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
    ἡμετέρας, νῦν αὐτὸς ἐποτρύνει καὶ ἀνώγει.
    • But Jove all-seeing, if he then o'erruled
      Our better mind, himself is now our aid.
    • XV. 724–725 (Lord Derby).
  • ἀλλ' αἰεί τε Διὸς κρείσσων νόος ἠέ περ ἀνδρῶν·
    • But still Jove's will the will of man o'errules.
    • XVI. 688 (Lord Derby).
  • ἀλλ' ἔπι τοι καὶ ἐμοὶ θάνατος καὶ μοῖρα κραταιή·
    ἔσσεται ἢ ἠὼς ἢ δείλη ἢ μέσον ἦμαρ
    ὁππότε τις καὶ ἐμεῖο Ἄρῃ ἐκ θυμὸν ἕληται
    ἢ ὅ γε δουρὶ βαλὼν ἢ ἀπὸ νευρῆφιν ὀϊστῷ.
    • Yet must I yield to death and stubborn fate,
      Whene'er, at mom or noon or eve, the spear
      Or arrow from the bow may reach my life.
    • XXI. 110 (Lord Derby).
  • οὐ μὲν γάρ τί πού ἐστιν ὀϊζυρώτερον ἀνδρὸς
    πάντων, ὅσσά τε γαῖαν ἔπι πνείει τε καὶ ἕρπει.
    • Among all creatures that breathe on earth and crawl on it
      there is not anywhere a thing more dismal than man is.
    • XVII. 446-447 (Zeus).
  • I have gone through what no other mortal on earth has gone through;
    I put my lips to the hands of the man who has killed my children.
    • XXIV. 505-506 (Priam to Achilleus).
  • ἄλγεα δ' ἔμπης
    ἐν θυμῷ κατακεῖσθαι ἐάσομεν ἀχνύμενοί περ·
    οὐ γάρ τις πρῆξις πέλεται κρυεροῖο γόοιο·
    • In our hearts,
      Though filled with grief, let us that grief suppress,
      For woeful lamentation naught avails.
    • XXIV. 522–524 (Lord Derby).
  • And you, old sir, we are told you prospered once.
    • XXIV. 543 (Achilleus to Priam).

The Odyssey (c. 7th century BC)[edit]

Book I
  • Ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, Μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ
    πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσε·
    πολλῶν δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω,
    πολλὰ δ’ ὅ γ’ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατὰ θυμόν,
    ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων.
    ἀλλ' οὐδ' ὧς ἑτάρους ἐρρύσατο, ἱέμενός περ·
    αὐτῶν γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο,
    νήπιοι, οἳ κατὰ βοῦς Ὑπερίονος Ἠελίοιο
    ἤσθιον· αὐτὰρ ὁ τοῖσιν ἀφείλετο νόστιμον ἦμαρ.
    τῶν ἁμόθεν γε, θεά, θύγατερ Διός, εἰπὲ καὶ ἡμῖν.
    • The man for wisdom's various arts renown'd,
      Long exercised in woes, O Muse! resound
      ;
      Who, when his arms had wrought the destined fall
      Of sacred Troy, and razed her heaven-built wall,
      Wandering from clime to clime, observant stray'd,
      Their manners noted, and their states survey'd,
      On stormy seas unnumber'd toils he bore,
      Safe with his friends to gain his natal shore:
      Vain toils! their impious folly dared to prey
      On herds devoted to the god of day;
      The god vindictive doom'd them never more
      (Ah, men unbless'd!) to touch that natal shore.
      Oh, snatch some portion of these acts from fate,
      Celestial Muse! and to our world relate.
    • Book I, lines 1–10 (translated by Alexander Pope).
  • ἱέμενος καὶ καπνὸν ἀποθρῴσκοντα νοῆσαι
    ἧς γαίης, θανέειν ἱμείρεται.
    • But he / Yearns for the native smoke, if that were all,
      To see it curling, and to die.
    • Book I, lines 58–9 (translated by P. S. Worsley).
  • ταῦτα θεῶν ἐν γούνασι κεῖται.
    • This thing the gods in their own knees do keep.
    • Book I, line 267 (Worsley).
Book II
  • παῦροι γάρ τοι παῖδες ὁμοῖοι πατρὶ πέλονται,
    οἱ πλέονες κακίους, παῦροι δέ τε πατρὸς ἀρείους.
    • Few match their fathers. Any tongue can tell
      The more are worse: yea, almost none their sires excel.
    • Book II, lines 276–7 (Worsley).
    • Cf. Pope's translation:
      Few sons attain the praise
      Of their great sires, and most their sires disgrace.
Book III
  • Τηλέμαχ', ἄλλα μὲν αὐτὸς ἐνὶ φρεσὶ σῇσι νοήσεις,
    ἄλλα δὲ καὶ δαίμων ὑποθήσεται.
    • Telemachus, thine own mind will conceive
      Somewhat, and other will a god suggest.
    • Book III, lines 26–7 (Worsley).
Book IV
  • Νεμεσσῶμαί γε μὲν οὐδὲν
    κλαίειν, ὅς κε θάνῃσι βροτῶν καὶ πότμον ἐπίσπῃ.
    τοῦτό νυ καὶ γέρας οἶον ὀϊζυροῖσι βροτοῖσι,
    κείρασθαί τε κόμην βαλέειν τ' ἀπὸ δάκρυ παρειῶν.
    • Nor can I not bewail one fall'n in death severe.
      'Tis the sole boon to wretched mortals given,
      The lock to sever and the tear to shed.
    • Book IV, line 195 (Worsley).
  • θεοὶ δέ τε πάντα ἴσασιν.
    • The gods know all things.
    • Book IV, line 468.
Book VI
  • οὐ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ γε κρεῖσσον καὶ ἄρειον,
    ἢ ὅθ' ὁμοφρονέοντε νοήμασιν οἶκον ἔχητον
    ἀνὴρ ἠδὲ γυνή· πόλλ' ἄλγεα δυσμενέεσσι,
    χάρματα δ' εὐμενέτῃσι· μάλιστα δέ τ' ἔκλυον αὐτοί.
    • Since nought is lovelier on the earth than this,
      When in the house one-minded to the last
      Dwell man and wife—a pain to foes, I wis,
      And joy to friends—but most themselves know their own bliss.
    • Book VI, lines 182–5 (Worsley).
  • Ζεὺς δ' αὐτὸς νέμει ὄλβον Ὀλύμπιος ἀνθρώποισιν,
    ἐσθλοῖσ' ἠδὲ κακοῖσιν, ὅπως ἐθέλῃσιν, ἑκάστῳ·
    • Zeus both to good and evil doth divide
      Wealth as he listeth.
    • Book VI, line 188 (Worsley).
  • οὐ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ γε κρεῖσσον καὶ ἄρειον,
    ἢ ὅθ' ὁμοφρονέοντε νοήμασιν οἶκον ἔχητον
    ἀνὴρ ἠδὲ γυνή·
    • The best thing in the world
      being a strong house held in serenity
      where man and wife agree.
    • Book VI, lines 182–4 (translated by Robert Fitzgerald).
Book VII
  • οὐ γάρ τι στυγερῇ ἐπὶ γαστέρι κύντερον ἄλλο
    ἔπλετο, ἥ τ' ἐκέλευσεν ἕο μνήσασθαι ἀνάγκῃ
    καὶ μάλα τειρόμενον καὶ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ πένθος ἔχοντα.
    • Nothing more shameless is than Appetite,
      Who still, whatever anguish load our breast,
      Makes us remember in our own despite
      Both food and drink.
    • Book VII, lines 216–8 (Worsley).
Book VIII
  • οὕτως οὐ πάντεσσι θεοὶ χαρίεντα διδοῦσιν
    ἀνδράσιν, οὔτε φυὴν οὔτ’ ἂρ φρένας οὔτ’ ἀγορητύν.
    • Not all fair gifts to all doth God divide,
      Eloquence, beauty, and a noble heart.
    • Book VIII, lines 167–8 (Worsley).
    • Variant: We cannot all hope to combine the pleasing qualities of good looks, brains, and eloquence.
  • Οὐκ ἀρετᾷ κακὰ ἔργα· κιχάνει τοι βραδὺς ὠκύν,
    ὡς καὶ νῦν Ἥφαιστος ἐὼν βραδὺς εἷλεν Ἄρηα,
    ὠκύτατόν περ ἐόντα θεῶν, οἳ Ὄλυμπον ἔχουσιν.
    • Now mark how evil-workers thrive not well.
      The swift is overtaken of the slow.
      Ares, the fleetest that on high doth dwell,
      Is by Hephaestus, who doth limping go,
      Caught with shrewd cunning, and doth forfeit owe.
    • Book VIII, lines 329–331 (Worsley).
  • Δειλαί τοι δειλῶν γε καὶ ἐγγύαι ἐγγυάασθαι.
    • A rogue's word was ever found
      Poor voucher.
    • Book VIII, line 351 (Worsley).
Book IX
  • ὡς οὐδὲν γλύκιον ἧς πατρίδος οὐδὲ τοκήων
    γίνεται, εἴ περ καί τις ἀπόπροθι πίονα οἶκον
    γαίῃ ἐν ἀλλοδαπῇ ναίει ἀπάνευθε τοκήων.
    • More than all pleasures that were ever made
      Parents and fatherland our life still bless.
      Though we rich home in a strange land possess,
      Still the old memories about us cling.
    • Book IX, lines 34–6 (Worsley).
Book X
  • Νεκύων ἀμενηνὰ κάρηνα.
    • The fleeting shadows of the dead.
    • Book X, line 521 (translated by G. A. Schomberg).
Book XI
  • Μή μ' ἄκλαυτον ἄθαπτον ἰὼν ὄπιθεν καταλείπειν
    νοσφισθείς.
    • His cold remains all naked to the sky,
      On distant shores unwept, unburied lie.
    • Book XI, lines 72–3 (Pope).
  • ἐπεὶ οὐκέτι πιστὰ γυναιξίν.
    • No more are women to be trusted now.
    • Book XI, line 456 (Worsley).
  • βουλοίμην κ' ἐπάρουρος ἐὼν θητευέμεν ἄλλῳ,
    ἀνδρὶ παρ' ἀκλήρῳ, ᾧ μὴ βίοτος πολὺς εἴη,
    ἢ πᾶσιν νεκύεσσι καταφθιμένοισιν ἀνάσσειν.
    • Rather I'd choose laboriously to bear
      A weight of woes, and breathe the vital air,
      A slave to some poor hind that toils for bread,
      Than reign the sceptred monarch of the dead.
    • Book XI, lines 489–492 (Pope).
    • Cf. Worsley's translation:
      Rather would I, in the sun's warmth divine,
      Serve a poor churl who drags his days in grief,
      Than the whole lordship of the dead were mine.
  • αὖτις ἔπειτα πέδονδε κυλίνδετο λᾶας ἀναιδής.
    • The enormous weight
      Back to the nether plain rolled tumbling down.
    • Book XI, line 598 (Worsley).
Book XII
  • ὦ φίλοι, οὐ γάρ πώ τι κακῶν ἀδαήμονές εἰμεν·
    • Friends, we are not in dangers all unlearned.
    • Book XII, line 209 (Worsley).
  • λιμῷ δ' οἴκτιστον θανέειν καὶ πότμον ἐπισπεῖν.
    • Most grievous of all deaths it is to die of hunger.
    • Book XII, line 343; translation cited in T. B. Harbottle, Dictionary of Quotations (1897), p. 409.
  • βούλομ' ἅπαξ πρὸς κῦμα χανὼν ἀπὸ θυμὸν ὀλέσσαι
    ἢ δηθὰ στρεύγεσθαι ἐὼν ἐν νήσῳ ἐρήμῃ.
    • I'd sooner die outright, beneath the waves o'erwhelmed,
      Than on this desert island slowly waste away.
    • Book XII, lines 351–2 (Worsley); translation reported in Harbottle's Dictionary of Quotations (1897), p. 340.
  • ἐχθρὸν δέ μοί ἐστιν
    αὖτις ἀριζήλως εἰρημένα μυθολογεύειν.
    • The wordy tale, once told, were hard to tell again.
    • Book XII, lines 453–4 (Worsley).
Book XIV
  • ξεῖν', οὔ μοι θέμις ἔστ', οὐδ' εἰ κακίων σέθεν ἔλθοι,
    ξεῖνον ἀτιμῆσαι· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
    ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε. δόσις δ' ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε
    γίνεται ἡμετέρη·
    • O friend, I dare not, though a worse man sought
      These doors, a stranger use discourteously.
      All strangers and all poor by Zeus are brought;
      Sweet is our gift, yet small.
    • Book XIV, lines 56–9 (Worsley).
  • εὐξάμενός τι ἔπος ἐρέω· οἶνος γὰρ ἀνώγει,
    ἠλεός, ὅς τ' ἐφέηκε πολύφρονά περ μάλ' ἀεῖσαι
    καί θ' ἁπαλὸν γελάσαι καί τ' ὀρχήσασθαι ἀνῆκε,
    καί τι ἔπος προέηκεν, ὅ πέρ τ' ἄῤῥητον ἄμεινον.
    • I speak for glory, since by wine made bold
      Often to singing even the wise will fall,
      Light laughter and the dance, nor can withhold
      Words that in sooth were better far untold.
    • Book XIV, lines 463–6 (Worsley).
Book XV
  • Μή νύ τι σεῦ ἀέκητι δόμων ἐκ κτῆμα φέρηται.
    οἶσθα γὰρ οἷος θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι γυναικός·
    κείνου βούλεται οἶκον ὀφέλλειν, ὅς κεν ὀπυίῃ,
    παίδων δὲ προτέρων καὶ κουριδίοιο φίλοιο
    οὐκέτι μέμνηται τεθνηότος οὐδὲ μεταλλᾷ.
    •          Watch, lest in thy despite
      Some fair possession from thy home he get:
      Since, well thou knowest, a woman's soul is set
      His house to prosper whom she chance to wed.
      Linked to another she discards all debt
      Due to the children of her former bed,
      Nor thinks at all of him, her dear-loved husband dead.
    • Book XV, lines 19–23 (Worsley).
  • ἶσόν τοι κακόν ἐσθ', ὅς τ' οὐκ ἐθέλοντα νέεσθαι
    ξεῖνον ἐποτρύνῃ καὶ ὃς ἐσσύμενον κατερύκῃ.
    • He to my mind an equal sin doth show
      Who, when a guest would linger, hints good-bye,
      And who, if one desire to part, says no.
    • Book XV, lines 72–3 (Worsley).
  • χρὴ ξεῖνον παρεόντα φιλεῖν, ἐθέλοντα δὲ πέμπειν.
    • Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.
    • Book XV, line 74 (Pope).
  • αἵδε δὲ νύκτες ἀθέσφατοι· ἔστι μὲν εὕδειν,
    ἔστι δὲ τερπομένοισιν ἀκουέμεν· οὐδέ τί σε χρή,
    πρὶν ὥρη, καταλέχθαι· ἀνίη καὶ πολὺς ὕπνος.
    • For now the nights move slowly and scarce end;
      Yea, there is room for slumber, and to keep
      Watch, and a listening ear to sweet words lend.
      Needs not at all unto thy couch to creep
      For some while yet. Harm comes from even too much sleep.
    • Book XV, lines 392–4 (Worsley).
  • νῶϊ δ' ἐνὶ κλισίῃ πίνοντέ τε δαινυμένω τε
    κήδεσιν ἀλλήλων τερπώμεθα λευγαλέοισι
    μνωομένω· μετὰ γάρ τε καὶ ἄλγεσι τέρπεται ἀνήρ,
    ὅς τις δὴ μάλα πολλὰ πάθῃ καὶ πόλλ' ἐπαληθῇ.
    • But we two, drinking wine and eating bread,
      Will charm our dear hearts each with other's pain.
      Past sorrow, and the tears a man hath shed,
      Who far hath wandered over earth and main,
      Yield comfort.
    • Book XV, lines 398–401 (Worsley).
Book XVII
  • νῦν μὲν δὴ μάλα πάγχυ κακὸς κακὸν ἡγηλάζει,
    ὡς αἰεὶ τὸν ὁμοῖον ἄγει θεὸς ὡς τὸν ὁμοῖον.
    • See how God ever like with like doth pair,
      And still the worthless doth the worthless lead!
    • Book XVII, lines 217–8 (Worsley).
  • αὐτὰρ μῆλα κακοὶ φθείρουσι νομῆες.
    • Bad herdsmen waste the flocks which thou hast left behind.
    • Book XVII, line 246 (Worsley).
  • δμῶες δ', εὖτ' ἂν μηκέτ' ἐπικρατέωσιν ἄνακτες,
    οὐκέτ' ἔπειτ' ἐθέλουσιν ἐναίσιμα ἐργάζεσθαι·
    • Servants, when their lords no longer sway,
      Their minds no more to righteous courses bend.
    • Book XVII, lines 320–1 (Worsley).
  • ἥμισυ γάρ τ' ἀρετῆς ἀποαίνυται εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
    ἀνέρος, εὖτ' ἄν μιν κατὰ δούλιον ἦμαρ ἕλῃσιν.
    • Half that man's virtue doth Zeus take away,
      Whom he surrenders to the servile day.
    • Book XVII, lines 322–3 (Worsley).
  • αἰδὼς δ' οὐκ ἀγαθὴ κεχρημένῳ ἀνδρὶ παρεῖναι.
    • Shame is no comrade for the poor, I weet.
    • Book XVII, line 347 (Worsley).
  • 'Ἐπεὶ οὔ τις ἐπίσχεσις οὐδ' ἐλεητὺς
    ἀλλοτρίων χαρίσασθαι.
    • Light is their reckoning, no remorse they feel,
      Food not their own to lavish from so brave a meal.
    • Book XVII, lines 451–2 (Worsley).
  • Εἰ δή πού τις ἐπουράνιος θεός ἐστι·
Book XVIII
  • Οὐδὲν ἀκιδνότερον γαῖα τρέφει ἀνθρώποιο
    πάντων, ὅσσα τε γαῖαν ἔπι πνείει τε καὶ ἕρπει.
    • Earth than a man no poorer feebler thing
      Rears, of all creatures that here breathe and move.
    • Book XVIII, lines 130–1 (Worsley).
  • ἀλλ' ὅ γε σιγῇ δῶρα θεῶν ἔχοι, ὅττι διδοῖεν.
    • Receive in silence what the Father brings.
    • Book XVIII, line 142 (Worsley).
Book XIX
  • αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐφέλκεται ἄνδρα σίδηρος.
    • Steel itself oft lures a man to fight.
    • Book XIX, line 13 (Worsley).
  • δοιαὶ γάρ τε πύλαι ἀμενηνῶν εἰσὶν ὀνείρων·
    αἱ μὲν γὰρ κεράεσσι τετεύχαται, αἱ δ' ἐλέφαντι.
    οἵ ῥ' ἐλεφαίρονται, ἔπε' ἀκράαντα φέροντες·
    οἳ δὲ διὰ ξεστῶν κεράων ἔλθωσι θύραζε,
    οἵ ῥ' ἔτυμα κραίνουσι, βροτῶν ὅτε κέν τις ἴδηται.
    • Two diverse gates there are of bodiless dreams,
      These of sawn ivory, and those of horn.
      Such dreams as issue where the ivory gleams
      Fly without fate, and turn our hopes to scorn.
      But dreams which issue through the burnished horn,
      What man soe'er beholds them on his bed,
      These work with virtue and of truth are born.
    • Book XIX, lines 563–8 (Worsley).
  • ἀλλ' οὐ γάρ πως ἔστιν ἀΰπνους ἔμμεναι αἰὲν
    ἀνθρώπους· ἐπὶ γάρ τοι ἑκάστῳ μοῖραν ἔθηκαν
    ἀθάνατοι θνητοῖσιν ἐπὶ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν.
    • Yet not for ever void of sleep remains
      Man; for the gods by rule of life dispense
      Sleep on all mortals whom the earth maintains.
    • Book XIX, lines 592–4 (Worsley).
Book XX
  • τέτλαθι δή, κραδίη· καὶ κύντερον ἄλλο ποτ' ἔτλης.
    • Bear up, my soul, a little longer yet;
      A little longer to thy purpose cling!
    • Book XX, line 18 (Worsley).
  • νύκτας δ' ὕπνος ἔχῃσιν, – ὁ γάρ τ' ἐπέλησεν ἁπάντων,
    ἐσθλῶν ἠδὲ κακῶν, ἐπεὶ ἂρ βλέφαρ' ἀμφικαλύψῃ·
    • Then the gods send us their refreshful sleep,
      Which good and evil from our mind doth sweep.
    • Book XX, lines 85–6 (Worsley).
  • μείδησε δὲ θυμῷ
    σαρδάνιον μάλα τοῖον·
    • Smiled from the heart a fell sardonic smile.
    • Book XX, lines 301–2 (Worsley).

Quotes about Homer[edit]

  • Omero poeta sovrano
  • Being such an observer he was always making the most unexpected observations, and painting things that were not only unpainted till then but, apparently, unseen by anyone else.
  • Seven cities warred for Homer, being dead,
    Who, living, had no roof to shroud his head.
  • Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.
    • I'm aggrieved when sometimes even excellent Homer nods.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica.
  • Mr. Homer goes in, as the phrase is, for perfect realism … He is a genuine painter; that is, to see, and to reproduce what he sees, is his only care … He is almost barbarously simple, and, to our eye, he is horribly ugly; but there is nevertheless something one likes about him. What is it? For ourselves, it is not his subjects. We frankly confess that we detest his subjects—his barren plank fences, his glaring, bald, blue skies, his big, dreary, vacant lots of meadows, his freckled, straight-haired Yankee urchins, his flat-breasted maidens, suggestive of a dish of rural doughnuts and pie, his calico sun-bonnets, his flannel shirts, his cowhide boots. He has chosen the least pictorial features of the least pictorial range of scenery and civilization; he has resolutely treated them as if they were pictorial, as if they were every bit as good as Capri or Tangiers; and, to reward his audacity, he has incontestably succeeded. … Mr. Homer has the great merit, moreover, that he naturally sees every thing at one with its envelope of light and air. He sees not in lines, but in masses, in gross, broad masses. Things come already modelled to his eye.
    • Henry James, in The Galaxy, Vol. 20 (1875), pp. 93–94
  • Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
    That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
    Yet never did I breathe its pure serene
    Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
    Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken.
  • It is ordinarily only a single work, or a single suite of works, which stamps the individual artist as a classic poet, artist, and so on. The same individual may have produces a great many different things, none of which stands in any relation to the classic. Homer has, for example, written a Batrachomyomachia, but this poem has not made him classic or immortal. To say that this is due to the insignificance of the subject is foolish, since the classic depends on perfect balance. If everything that determines a production as classic were to be found solely in the creative artist, then everything produced by him would have to be a classic, in a since similar to, though higher than, that in which bees always produce uniform kind of cells. To explain this by saying that he was more successful on the one case than the other, would be to explain exactly nothing. For, partly, it would be only a pretentious tautology, which only too often in life enjoys the honor of being regarded as an answer; partly, considered as an answer, it lies in another relativity than the one concerning which our question was asked. For it tells us nothing about the relation between form and content, and at best could be taken into account in connection with an inquiry into the formative activity alone.
  • Once the diction has been established it works of itself. Almost anything the poet wants to say, has only to be turned into this orthodox and ready-made diction and it becomes poetry. 'Whatever Miss T. eats turns into Miss T.'
  • In the Odyssey one may liken Homer to the setting sun, of which the grandeur remains without the intensity.
  • Our author's work is a wild paradise, where, if we cannot see all the beauties so distinctly as in an ordered garden, it is only because the number of them is infinitely greater. It is like a copious nursery, which contains the seeds and first productions of every kind, out of which those who followed him have but selected some particular plants, each according to his fancy, to cultivate and beautify. If some things are too luxuriant it is owing to the richness of the soil; and if others are not arrived to perfection or maturity, it is only because they are overrun and oppressed by those of a stronger nature.
  • We acknowledge him the father of poetical diction, the first who taught that language of the gods to men.
  • But how did you come to have this skill about Homer only, and not about Hesiod or the other poets? Does not Homer speak of the same themes which all other poets handle? Is not war his great argument? and does he not speak of human society and of intercourse of men, good and bad, skilled and unskilled, and of the gods conversing with one another and with mankind, and about what happens in heaven and in the world below, and the generations of gods and heroes? Are not these the themes of which Homer sings?
  • As learned commentators view
    In Homer more than Homer knew.

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